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If you are the surviving spouse of a deceased retiree, recurring monthly payments may be made to you if your spouse elected a reduced annuity to provide the benefit. To qualify for the monthly benefit, you must have been married to the retiree for at least nine months. A survivor annuity may still be payable if the retiree's death occurred before nine months if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the retiree.
A court order awarding a former spouse a survivor annuity may prevent us from paying you the portion of the annuity awarded under the court order. However, if otherwise eligible, you may receive the complete annuity if the former spouse loses eligibility for benefits.
Read about survivor benefit elections.
If no survivor annuity is payable upon the retiree's death, any remaining portion, representing either the remaining annuity and/or retirement contributions not paid to the retiree, is payable to the person(s) eligible under the order of precedence.
See how the amount of the monthly survivor benefit is determined.
You should review your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) to make sure that there is verification of all of your military and civilian service. If any of the records are missing, your employer should help you document the service and obtain any missing records.
If you have civilian service for which you must pay retirement contributions or repay a refund of contributions, your employer should tell you about what impact payment or non-payment has on your eligibility and the amount of your retirement benefit.
If you owe a payment to receive credit for military service you performed after 1956, you must make that payment before you retire. If you are receiving military retired pay, you should discuss whether or not you must waive the retired pay with the personnel officer at your agency.
Your personnel officer can also tell you about receiving credit in your annuity computation for various types of service and about the payments described above, as well as help you with service documentation.
To understand the concept of Phased Retirement, consider two half-time employees who fill one full-time job. Employee one retires while employee two continues working. Employee one receives an annuity based on half-time employment, and employee two continues to work half-time for half-pay. Eventually, employee two retires, and receives an annuity based upon half-time service, including credit for the time worked after employee one retired. Now assume that employee one and employee two are the same person. That is in essence how Phased Retirement operates.
While there are additional computational details, these are the basics. At entry into Phased Retirement, the employee’s annuity will be completed as if fully retired and then divided by two. That annuity would be paid while the individual worked a half time schedule receiving half pay.
When the Phased Retiree fully retires, there will be a computation of the annuity that would be payable if the employee had been employed full time and then divided by two prior to adjustment for survivor benefits. That amount would then be added to the original Phased Retirement Annuity, and that combined amount would then provide the basis for survivor annuity adjustment and benefits.
The individual’s income during partial and full retirement appropriately reflects the individual’s situation. During the partial retirement period, the income will be between full retirement and full employment, and the Phased Retiree would be increasing their lifetime retirement income. At the time of full retirement, the individual would be appropriately compensated for the value of both full-time and part-time service, with an annuity greater than if they had fully retired at the time of transition to Phased Retirement, but less than if the individual had continued employment on a full-time basis during the period of Phased Retirement.
A divorce, legal separation, or annulment court order may require that an employee or a retiree provide a survivor annuity for a former spouse. We will pay based on the court order after a death-in-service or after the death of an annuitant. If the benefit will be based on a court order, employees and retirees [or their former spouses] need to send us a court-certified copy of the court order. Send this to:
U. S. Office of Personnel Management
Retirement Services Program
Court-Order Benefits Branch
Post Office Box 17
Washington, DC 20044-0017
If you are still working for the Federal Government, you should also provide a copy of the court order to your personnel or human resources office. All court orders involving garnishments or allotments of your payments from us must be sent to the address given above.
Your personnel office must take the following actions to process your
Complete the "Agency Check List of Immediate Retirement Procedures," Standard
Form 2801, Schedule D (CSRS) or 3701, Schedule D (FERS);
Prepare and obtain your signature on the "Certified Summary of Federal
Service," Standard Form 2801-1 (CSRS) or 3701-1 (FERS);
Verify any service not fully documented in your OPF; [Note:If documentation
is missing, verification may be obtained by contacting federal record centers.
If the personnel office is unable to obtain verification, we will complete
verification upon receipt of your retirement application and records. This
process will cause a delay in processing of your claim.]
Certify and transfer your coverage under the Federal Employees' Group Life
Insurance (FEGLI) program to OPM;
Transfer your enrollment under the Federal Employees' Health Benefits (FEHB)
program to OPM;
Prepare Standard Form (SF) 50, "Notification of Personnel Action."; and
Send all of your retirement materials to your payroll office.
If you are a widow or widower of an individual who died as an employee or retiree, your survivor annuity begins on the day after the employee's or retiree's death. If you are a widow or widower of a former FERS employee who was separated from Federal service when he/she died, but had not yet retired, your annuity begins on the date the deceased former employee would have been eligible for an unreduced annuity. You have the option to begin receiving the benefit at a lower rate on the day after the former employee’s death.
If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because a former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits.
If you are eligible for a survivor annuity because of your insurable interest in the life of the annuitant, your survivor annuity begins on the day after the annuitant's death.
If you are a former spouse who was awarded a survivor annuity based on a court order, your survivor annuity begins to accrue on whichever day is later: the day after the employee's or retiree's death or the first day of the second month after we receive a certified copy of the court order along with any additional necessary supporting documentation. If you are a former spouse who is eligible for benefits based on the retiree's election of a reduced annuity to provide the benefit, your annuity begins to accrue the day after the retiree's death. If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because another former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits.
If you are a child of a deceased employee or annuitant, your survivor annuity begins to accrue on the day after the employee's or retiree's death.
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